Embracing the Journey of Becoming: A Q&A With Steve Wiens

What are a few of the big lessons you gleaned for us and our beginnings from the Creation story?

I think we need to give ourselves grace when our beginnings don’t happen as fast as we want them to, or as neatly as we hope they will. I have some friends that are struggling with infertility right now, and they’re right in the middle of tohu va vohu. There doesn’t seem to be any light. And there is this huge tendency to judge ourselves when things don’t happen like we think they should. We forget that Moses left the palace in Egypt where he was a prince because he murdered someone. Then he became a shepherd in the wilderness for a really long time. It was forty years before he saw that burning bush. He thought it was over for forty years. Can you imagine that? He never in his wildest dreams thought he was ever going to be anything else.

Another lesson: I wrote about discovering your seeds of life on Day Three; those beautiful gifts embedded within you by God, designed to come out and bless the world. I just got an email last night from someone who read that chapter and is just discovering her seeds. And she’s terrified. I get it. But my experience with people who really finally discover what it is that they were put on this earth by God to do is that they can’t quite believe they get to do that. It feels too fun. Too joyful. Not in every case, mind you, but for most of us, we experience delirious levels of joy when we get to do what God created us to do. So the challenge is to believe that we don’t always have to suffer in order to be doing what God is inviting us to be doing.

When we find ourselves in an ending, a place of darkness, what do you suggest is the first step we take to get started moving toward the new beginning?

You have to be absolutely honest about how bad it really is. No pretending. No editing. Take all of that raw energy to God and a few trusted friends, and let it out. Rage. Let the windows rattle with your howling. We always hear that God helps those who help themselves, but that is really bad theology; it’s nowhere to be found in the bible. God helps those who are desperate enough to know they can’t rescue themselves and they are utterly lost. I wrote about my sister Lisa who got to that point on Day One in the book; she had to hit bottom. Light comes when you admit how dark it really is.

What’s the biggest challenge we face in seeing God in and through the seven days of creation?  Where can we get stuck, and how would you suggest we get unstuck at those times?

I think it’s a good exercise to stop and get honest about our own picture of God. How do you see God, really? Aloof? Judgmental? Useless? Detached? Controlling? I’ve been a pastor for twenty years, and I would say most people are stuck in a try hard/give up cycle. They try really hard to please God/get it right because they think God is just waiting for them to get the next move right before God blesses them.

Then they give up because life isn’t turning out the way they thought it would. Even though they’ve tried their hardest to get it right, they still get cancer. They still lose their job. The divorce still goes through. They give up because God isn’t coming through on the bargain. The biggest challenge is to believe God invites us on a journey of becoming, and that journey will include pain and joy and mistakes and breakthroughs. Can we walk towards God and with God in all of it? The seven days of creation offer us a way to see where we actually are on the journey; Beginnings offers examples of others who are walking similar “days” as you are right now. And that is hopeful.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  What about the most joyful or life-giving part?

I know it sounds hard to believe, but I loved writing this book. I kept discovering and expanding and watching it grow before my eyes. It was hard at times, sure. One time I spent about 8 straight hours writing Day Five, after which I realized none of it would work. But even that was a gift, because I knew at that point the book had a strong enough culture that it would reject what didn’t fit. The hardest part of writing this book was that I rarely had long stretches of time to write. My three boys were all under six years old. I had a full time job.

A lot of this book was written between the ungodly hours of 5 – 6am, over the course of many, many months. 

What is your greatest hope for this book?

I hope people begin to see and taste that God really is always making all things new, including their lives and the whole world, and that God is looking for partners that want to be a part of restoring the world.

1/1/2016 5:00:00 AM
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  • About Alonzo L. Gaskill
    Alonzo L. Gaskill is an author, editor, theologian, lecturer, and professor of World Religions. He holds degrees in philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. He has authored more than two-dozen books and numerous articles on various aspects of religion; with topics ranging from world religions and interfaith dialogue, to scriptural commentaries, texts on symbolism, sacred space, and ritual, and even devotional literature.